Promised funding for behavioral health and drug treatment is stalled

Published: Jul. 7, 2022 at 3:57 PM PDT
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PORTLAND Ore. (KPTV) - Millions of dollars in funding promised for behavioral health and drug treatment under Ballot Measure 110 have stalled in the pipeline, with treatment providers anxiously waiting for financial help.

Voters passed Ballot Measure 110 in November, 2020. The measure was designed to fund behavioral health treatment services through marijuana tax revenue, but after an initial wave of funding was released, providers have been frustrated by long delays on their requests for additional funds.

Miracles Club, which provides culturally specific treatment services for Portland’s Black community, initially received $200,000 in funding through Ballot Measure 110, which allowed the organization to add staff and grow its services, but that grant ended December 31st. A second and more substantial round of funding was supposed to arrive in December, but didn’t.

“I’ve got folks to try to hire. We’ve got bills to pay,” said Miracles Club Executive Director Julia Mines. “I’m trying to keep staff and if I can’t keep staff that means all the money I’ve invested in training and retention goes out the door because I’ve got to lay folks off. And with the job market as it is right now, they’re going to be snatched up because I’ve got quality people.”

Ballot Measure 110 requires the Oregon Health Authority to establish Behavioral Health Resource networks in each county region in the state, but as of July 7, 16 counties, including Multnomah County, have yet to have their network applications approved.

In a presentation to the Oregon State Legislature, OHA Director Patrick Allen admitted the agency made “missteps” by not requesting sufficient staffing supports, not adequately supporting the grantmaking process, and underestimating the number of applicants and the time intensive nature of the review process.

Mines said she wants to expand services and help more people, but can’t do so without additional funding.

“People are dying out there,” said Mines. The fentanyl crisis is real. “I don’t understand why we can’t just get through the red tape and make it happen.”